Review – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – The Barrowlands, Glasgow – 25/03/13

Good things come to those who wait.

Their tours to these shores may be few and far between but Black Rebel Motorcycle Club know how to leave their mark when they’re here. Still playing blues that shake the pillars of the earth, the trio are now seven albums in and show no sign of taking their hand of the throttle.

IMAG0200Opening with The Call’s ‘Let The Day Begin’, ecstasy and emotion sit in perfect harmony as the song honours the passing of bassist Robert Leven Been’s father Michael. This deceptively upbeat version bristles with the kind of unique energy that has sustained BRMC throughout their career, with Leah Shapiro’s pulverising drumming getting even the most leather clad audience members moving.

In fact the entire sold-out Barrowlands seems to erupt with this opening salacious salvo, showing that whilst they might be record labels nomads, their denim-clad roots still stretch deep into people’s hearts.

Several songs from new album Specter At The Feast are aired tonight, demonstrating the thundering three-piece’s continuing ability to weave chromatic choruses with addictive grooves. ‘Rival’ is a grimy garage onslaught, with Been’s raucous bass rifts hammering Peter Hayes proclamation that “I’m not the riotous/I’m not the innocent/I’m just a sign it’s all gone wrong” into the front row. Silent assassin ‘Funny Games’ weaves the perfect path between meandering and magnetic,  whilst ‘Returning’ has more than a tinge of religious elation to it.

And in a 25-song set there was still plenty of time for the classics. ‘Love Burns’ sounds as painful as when it was unleashed on the world over a decade ago and ‘Six Barrel Shotgun’ is still the best way to start a riot in under three minutes. On stage the band are even able to coax extra life from ‘Conscience Killer’, with the previously forgettable number sounding as dangerous as a Great White Shark as it stalks the ballroom.

Impressively BRMC sound as imposing stripped back as they do amped up. Howl-era ‘Devil’s Waitin’ and ‘Mercy’ both get an outing, with Been and Hayes taking turn about on lead vocals to woo the crowd and move the tempo from manic to moving.

But of all the things that BRMC showcase tonight, it is their awe-inspiring self-control that proves the most remarkable. Most bands with songs like ‘Spread Your Love’ or ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘N’ Roll’ in their locker would have their entire setlist enslaved to them. Not BRMC. A relatively sedate encore of new tracks ‘Sell It’ and ‘Lose Yourself’ show a band completely at ease with themselves and still willing to do things their own unobvious way.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are a band like no other, making music you won’t hear anywhere else. Tonight their sound defies the logic that it could be produced by a mere three pairs of hands. Coiling round the consciousness of all who witnessed their two-hour set, another sell out show awaits whenever they swing through Glasgow again.

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